In case you haven’t noticed, the USPS’s Informed Delivery (ID) program has been growing quietly but steadily. It has grown not only in numbers, but also in trust among ID users. Features have been enhanced, and more PSPs are quietly promoting it as an extra value to their customers.

I wrote one of my first WhatTheyThink articles on Informed Delivery (“Is Informed Delivery Changing Consumer Behavior?”) back in 2018. Since then, Informed Delivery has “grown up,” so to speak, and the USPS has started tracking user response to promote it. I, myself, am an ID fan—I look at my Informed Daily Digest every morning over coffee. It’s part of my morning routine.

Informed Delivery is a free service offered by the USPS that gives postal customers a free digital preview of what is arriving in their mailbox that day. The USPS uses the term “soon,” however, since on occasion a piece of mail gets waylaid, but in nearly all cases, the mail arrives the same day the preview arrives. To create these previews, the USPS takes the grayscale images already being captured during mail processing and provides them to subscribers in three ways: in a morning email digest, on the user’s ID dashboard, or on the user’s ID mobile app. Only the address side of the envelope is captured. Informed Delivery also provides basic information on packages arriving “soon,” along with tracking numbers.

Informed Delivery for Business Mailers is a (still free) add-on service that allows mailers to add a full-color ride-along image and hyperlink that allow subscribers to respond to the mailpiece even before the physical piece arrives. The USPS refers to these as Informed Delivery campaigns.

Now the Data

Back in 2017, there were 8 million users of the USPS Informed Delivery Service. Today, there are 41 million. That’s 16% of the adult population in the United States.

So far, people are loving Informed Delivery. Open rates for digest emails are a whopping 70%. Between 2019–2020, the percentage of ID users who report being “satisfied” or “very satisfied” has risen from 91% to 93%, and the percentage who would recommend Informed Delivery to a friend, family member, or colleague has risen from 77% to 94%. So while people don’t necessarily trust a “free” service from the USPS to actually work well, Informed Delivery does, and the numbers show it.

What platform are people using to engage?

  • 79% are viewing the daily email digest.
  • 11% are using the Informed Delivery dashboard.
  • 10% are using the Informed Delivery mobile app.

When are people viewing their Informed Delivery previews?

  • 86% in the morning.
  • 16% in the afternoon.
  • 2% in the evening.

These data lead me to wonder how this might impact decisions regarding the design of ID campaigns. Knowing that the overwhelming majority view these preview images in the morning, how might this impact the design of the ride-along image or the wording in the call to action? Just wondering.

When it comes to Informed Delivery, the USPS has been great about continual improvement. ID campaigns have always provided the option for a color banner or ride-along image to appear below the grayscale mailpiece to draw attention to the response link. Now, mailers can also submit a full-color “representative image” to be used in place of the actual mail piece. This image typically looks like the actual piece, but without the address block, providing more space for design. Business users can submit multiple representative images if they want to do message testing.

The clickable links in the ID campaigns not only allow recipients to respond to offers right away, but they also provide mailers with valuable metrics, such as email open rate and number of click-throughs. Speaking of which, does this using the color representative image instead of the grayscale raise click-through rates? According to some split testing, not necessarily. In one of my next posts, I’ll look at the results of some these split tests. The results may surprise you.

Another change of particular interest to mailers is the postal discount. Currently, postal customers receive a 2% discount on ID campaigns. Starting in 2022, however, it is reported that this discount will double to 4%. If that’s not incentive to use an already beneficial free service, I don’t know what is.

I love that the USPS continues to improve and refine the Informed Delivery service. Its decision to provide a free way to give mailers an interactive multi-touch campaign is fantastic. I also love that they keep improving and providing user data that tells helps mailers get the most out of it.

“Free” just keeps getting better and better.